In the wake of the inexcusable shooting death of 14-year-old Dajae Coleman, some observers have claimed that Evanston has grown increasingly less safe in recent years.

But Evanston Police crime statistics as reported to state and federal authorities indicate that claim is false.

Here’s a chart, based on police department annual reports, showing the count of violent crime incidents over the past 10 years.

Total violent crime incidents were down 42 percent in 2011 compared to 2002.

Of course, as the chart shows, crime levels do flucuate. And for this year through August, violent crime was up nearly 12 percent from the same period in 2011.

But until Coleman was shot, Evanston had made it through the year so far without a single homicide. The ciy has experienced between one and five homicides a year over the last decade, with an annual average of just over two per year.

No level of violent crime is acceptable, of course. But as we think about how to respond to violence, it’s important to understand the facts about crime trends.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Thanks for the data

    Always love the data.  Thanks for this.  I'd like to see rape and homicide in their own figure so we can see the fluctuation (the Y axis would show the ranges better), but changes at that level are probably not significant anyway.

    The outrage over Dajae is, of course, because he is so young, a great kid, honor student, etc.  No one should die from gun violence even if they do not have all those social markers, of course, but those are the things that make everyone want to "do somethng right now!"  That instinct can be channeled into volunteering, neighborhood watch, anti-violence campaigns (there is a huge one on facebook that just started yesterday!).  

    What we really do NOT want to do is policy -making by tragedy (it happens everywhere, this is not a critique of Evanston per se).  Humans are notoriously bad at assessing risk and in the wake of something like this, we become even worse at it.  So, looking out to accurate trend data is very useful at times like these.  Of course, there is no way a trend (even if "getting better") can fill the hole created by a lost child, but this is important to know so thank you for posting it.

    And don't forget:  only about 1 in 3 or 1 in 4 rapes is reported, so the rape numbers are significantly lower than rates.

    1. Interactive chart

      The chart is interactive, so you can mouse over the lines to see the numbers.

      The annual count of homicides and reported rapes is so small that trends are difficult to discern. But for the entire period, the city averaged 2.2 homicides per year and 8.1 reported rapes per year.

      — Bill

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